Investors should take at least some profits following the gains we have seen in U.S. stock markets since October 2011, Bill Strazzullo, Partner at Bell Curve Trading, said on Thursday, arguing that it is too early to assume that markets have moved to a long-term bullish trading environment.
"The short-term momentum is still overall bullish. We got out of the gate really quickly. We’ve had some good economic data. I think the bottom line is it’s too early to make that transition from what has been a bearish trading environment to a bullish one," Strazzullo told CNBC.
Stocks on Wall Street rallied sharply in January, with the Dow marking its highest close since May 2008, the Nasdaq its highest close since 2000, and the S&P 500 up 4.4 percent in January.
“People want to make that case because we’ve rallied 25 percent since the October 4 lows in the S&P 500. But I think at these levels, that ship has really sailed in terms of the better gains,” Strazzullo said.
“We’ve been telling our clients to reduce their equity exposure, not add to it. We just think the risk-reward just doesn’t make sense here.” He believes there are too many issues both domestically and overseas for Wall Street to continue to run higher.
“The case that makes the most sense on the bullish side is that the market basically trades between 1170 and 1370 in the S&P, Strazzullo said.
If the U.S. economy recovers, and Europe manages to balance austerity with a weak economic environment and avoid any moresovereign debt issues, you can make the case for a bull run in the stock markets later in the year, he said.
“But right now, I really want to be dialing back my equity exposure at these levels, not add to it,” Strazzullo said.
He still sees opportunities in some stocks, notably large cap pharmaceuticals and biotech stocks.
“The usual suspects on the defensive side make sense—utilities, and anything that has a decent dividend,” he said.
“The bigger point here is that we’ve had a great run since early October and it makes sense to take profits and at least move some of that money to the sideline,” according to Strazzullo.